# Coax Stub Filters Demystified

Unless you hold a First Degree RF Wizard rating, chances are good that coax stubs seem a bit baffling to you. They look for all the world like short circuits or open circuits, and yet work their magic and act to match feedline impedances or even as bandpass filters. Pretty interesting behavior from a little piece of coaxial cable.

If you’ve ever wondered how stub filters do their thing, [Fesz] has you covered. His latest video concentrates on practical filters made from quarter-wavelength and half-wavelength stubs. Starting with LTspice simulations, he walks through the different behaviors of open-circuit and short-circuit stubs, as well as what happens when multiple stubs are added to the same feedline. He also covers a nifty online calculator that makes it easy to come up with stub lengths based on things like the velocity factor and characteristic impedance of the coax.

It’s never just about simulations with [Fesz], though, so he presents a real-world stub filter for FM broadcast signals on the 2-meter amateur radio band. The final design required multiple stubs to get 30 dB of attenuation from 88 MHz to 108 MHz, and the filter seemed fairly sensitive to the physical position of the stubs relative to each other. Also, the filter needed a little LC matching circuit to move the passband frequency to the center of the 2-meter band. All the details are in the video below.

It’s pretty cool to see what can be accomplished with just a couple of offcuts of coax. Plus, getting some of the theory behind those funny little features on PCBs that handle microwave frequencies is a nice bonus. This microwave frequency doubler is a nice example of what stubs can do.

# Cavity Filters, The Black Art You Have A Chance Of Pursuing

A tuned circuit formed by a capacitor and an inductor is a familiar enough circuit, and it’s understood that it will resonate at a particular frequency. As that frequency increases, so the size of the capacitor and inductor decrease, and there comes a point at which they can become the characteristic capacitance and inductance of a transmission line. These tuned circuits can be placed in an enclosure, at which they can be designed for an extremely high Q factor, a measure of quality, and thus a very narrow resonant point. They are frequently used as filters for that reason, and [Fesz] is here with a video explaining some of their operation and configurations.

Some of the mathematics behind RF design can be enough to faze any engineer, but he manages to steer a path away from that rabbit hole and explain cavity filters in a way that’s very accessible. We learn how to look at tuned circuits as transmission lines, and the properties of the various different coupling methods. Above all it reveals that making tuned cavities is within reach.

They’re a little rare these days, but there was a time when almost every TV set contained a set of these cavities which were ready-made for experimentation.

# Passive Diplexer Makes One Antenna Act Like Two

Stay in the amateur radio hobby long enough and you might end up with quite a collection of antennas. With privileges that almost extend from DC to daylight, one antenna will rarely do everything, and pretty soon your roof starts to get hard to see through the forest of antennas. It may be hell on curb appeal, but what’s a ham to do?

One answer could be making one antenna do the work of two, as [Guido] did with this diplexer for dual APRS setups. Automatic Packet Reporting System is a packet radio system used by hams to transmit telemetry and other low-bandwidth digital data. It’s most closely associated with the 2-meter ham band, but [Guido] has both 2-meter (144.8-MHz) and 70-cm LoRa (433.775-MHz) APRS IGates, or Internet gateway receivers. His goal was to use a single broadband discone antenna for both APRS receivers, and this would require sorting the proper signals from the antenna to the proper receiver with a diplexer.

Note that [Guido] refers to his design as a “duplexer,” which is a device to isolate and protect a receiver from a transmitter when they share the same antenna — very similar to a diplexer but different. His diplexer is basically a pair of filters in parallel — a high-pass filter tuned to just below the 70-cm band, and a low-pass filter tuned just above the top of the 2-m band. The filters were designed using a handy online tool and simulated in LTSpice, and then constructed in classic “ugly” style. The diplexer is all-passive and uses air-core inductors, all hand-wound and tweaked by adjusting the spacing of the turns.

[Guido]’s diplexer performs quite well — only a fraction of a dB of insertion loss, but 45 to 50 dB attenuation of unwanted frequencies — pretty impressive for a box full of caps and coils. We love these quick and dirty tactical builds, and it’s always a treat to see RF wizardry in action.

# Bluetooth Wearable Becomes Rad Synth Controller

Once upon a time, a watch was just a watch. These days, though, smartwatches have all kinds of tricks built in, from heartrate sensors, to accelerometers, gyros, and tons of networking capability. Take advantage of just some of that hardware, and you have yourself a pretty nifty controller. And that’s precisely what [Simon Brem] did.

The project is based around the capable PineTime smartwatch, which [Simon] has been using with the InfiniTime firmware. On this platform, he created an app that sends out Bluetooth MIDI commands straight from the watch. It can be used as a motion controller, where waving and angling the watch can be used to control MIDI parameters, or it can be used to sync BPM to the wearer’s heartrate. [Simon] demonstrates an example use case in a demo video, where the watch is used to control filters in pleasant ways.

We’ve seen a lot of neat watch hacks lately, as it turns out! To say nothing of the brilliant MIDI controllers that have come through these doors, as well. Video after the break.

# No Inductors Needed For This Simple, Clean Twin-Tee Oscillator

If there’s one thing that amateur radio operators are passionate about, it’s the search for the perfect sine wave. Oscillators without any harmonics are an important part of spectrum hygiene, and while building a perfect oscillator with no distortion is a practical impossibility, this twin-tee audio frequency oscillator gets pretty close.

As [Alan Wolke (W2AEW)] explains, a twin-tee oscillator is quite simple in concept, and pretty simple to build too. It uses a twin-tee filter, which is just a low-pass RC filter in parallel with a high-pass RC filter. No inductors are required, which helps with low-frequency designs like this, which would call for bulky coils. His component value selections form an impressively sharp 1.6-kHz notch filter about 40 dB deep. He then plugs the notch filter into the feedback loop of an MCP6002 op-amp, which creates a high-impedance path at anything other than the notch filter frequency. The resulting sine wave is a thing of beauty, showing very little distortion on an FFT plot. Even on the total harmonic distortion meter, the oscillator performs, with a THD of only 0.125%.

This video is part of [Alan]’s “Circuit Fun” series, which we’ve really been enjoying. The way he breaks complex topics into simple steps that are easy to understand and then strings them all together has been quite valuable. We’ve covered tons of his stuff, everything from the basics of diodes to time-domain reflectometry.

# A Practical Open Source Air Purifier

In the years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s fair to say we’ve all become a lot more aware of the air quality surrounding us. Many of us have added a CO2 monitor to our collection of tools, and quite a few will have an air filtration system too. There are plenty of devices on the market that fulfill this niche at varying qualities and prices, but shouldn’t a decent filter be something to make for yourself? [Naomi Wu] thinks so, and she’s put up the design for her Nukit open air purifier online under the GPLv3.

The principle of the unit is simple enough: it’s a box with an HVAC filter on the front and a set of computer fans on its side to draw air through. But it’s more than just a box, as there are three separate versions for wall-mount, hanging mount or a freestanding tower, and each one comes as a DXF file with all parts ready for laser cutting. It’s about as straightforward a way to get your hands on a well-designed and high quality air purifier as could be imagined.

[Naomi] has been quiet for a while in her familiar role as YouTube maker and guide to the nooks and crannies of her native Shenzhen, so it’s very positive to see her still active and producing projects after being warned off social media by the authorities. If you’d like to see another recent project of hers, look no further than her update to [Bunnie Huang]’s Shenzhen guide.

# Sailor Hat Adds Graceful Shutdown To Pis

Even though Windows and other operating systems constantly remind us to properly eject storage devices before removing them, plenty of people won’t heed those warnings until they finally corrupt a drive and cause all kinds of data loss and other catastrophes. It’s not just USB jump drives that can get corrupted, though. Any storage medium can become unusable if certain actions are being taken when the power is suddenly removed. That includes the SD cards on Raspberry Pis, too, and if your power isn’t reliable you might consider this hat to ensure they shut down properly during power losses.

The Raspberry Pi hat is centered around a series of supercapacitors which provide power for the Pi temporarily. The hat also communicates with the Pi to let it know there is a loss of power, so that the Pi can automatically shut itself down in that situation to prevent corrupting the memory card. The hat is more than just a set of backup capacitors, though. The device is capable of taking input power from a wide range of sources and filtering it for the power requirements of the Pi, especially in applications like boats and passenger vehicles where the input power might be somewhat noisy. There’s an optocoupled CAN bus interface as well for those looking to use this for automotive applications.

The entire project is also available on the project’s GitHub page for those wishing to build their own. Some sort of power backup is a good idea for any computer, though, not just Raspberry Pis. We’ve seen uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) with enough power to run an entire house including its computers, to smaller ones that’ll just keep your Internet online during a power outage.